Gamo Targets in Competition

Setting up a full 12 to 15 lane field target course requires 24 to 30 targets. And for a Grand Prix type match involving two separate courses, 60 targets. Throw in a couple of spare targets, 62 targets minimum to host a large match. Gamo targets are probably the most economical. There are some heavier duty brands of targets such as Rhino, Target Art, and Yegua. In my opinion, the Yegua targets are the best I have seen but also pricier. Since our club was started on a tight budget, we went with Gamo targets. Gamo targets need assembly and additional work in order to be suitable for matches. A properly maintained Gamo target works well at 12fpe. They will hold up OK even at 20fpe but will require some additional maintenance. They are also subject to rattle downs when hit high (especially the squirrel faceplate). The following pages document some of the fixes and maintenance issues to consider when using Gamo targets.

1) Kill zones: The kill zones of Gamo targets are 40mm (1.575 inches). They are supplied with several reducers including 3/8", 1/2", 3/4", and 1.125". The reducers are OK for ocassional backyard use but will not stay in place during a match. My fix is to weld a 7/16" flat washer to the bottom of the reducer. The reducer can then be bolted in place using the pull bolt on the Gamo target. I also add a 3/8" lock washer to keep it from loosening.

Modified reducers and hardware:

2) Assembly: Assembly is straightforward. The target typically comes with a squirrel faceplate in the USA. For variety, you can buy other faceplates. Faceplates can be mounted left or right facing.

Instructions say that the faceplate should be mounted behind the flange:

Insure that the clevis tab is vertical when you tighten it:

3) Link pins: The stock link pins can work fine but the clips can come off or break. You can check them periodically or replace them with a screw and stop nut. Use an 8-32x1/2" screw and tighten the lock nut until it bottoms out. Loosen 1/2 to 1 full turn and check for free operation.

Link plates and replacement screws:

4) Strings: The included strings and winders work fine. The simple wire winders uncoil easily for fast setup. They take a little work to wind but they are reliable. The included strings are only about 50 yards long so I extend some of them with a different color string. That tells me which string to grab for far targets. Or you can extend them all.

5) Leaders: The included open link chains can get hung up too easily on the base of the target. I replace all of the open link chains with an equal length of closed link chain. The "key ring" loops can get shot up so I usually have to replace one or two after each match.

Closed link chain and "key ring" shown on right:

6) Mounting: I use two metal spring clamps ($1 each at Home Depot) to secure a target to an 8" wide cinder block. One clamped to the rear corner of the target behind the middle web of the cinder block and the other clamp near the front, on the opposite side from the rear clamp. The 8" wide cinder blocks are typically available in three heights 4"x8"x16", 6"x8"x16", and 8"x8"x16". I use the 6"x8"x16" blocks and occasionally stack them two high if I want to raise the target higher in order to avoid line of sight obstructions. On our course, the blocks are left in place and moved around between matches. A level is used when placing the block. The targets are crated up and stored indoors after each match.

7) Maintenance/repairs: Targets should be maintained. I give the targets and strings a quick check between matches. For the bigger matches, I'll adjust, clean, paint, and oil each target. I have a set of standard tools that I keep in a kit. After a lot of use, the reducers, paddles, and faceplates may start to cup. I remove them and reflatten them with a hammer and wood or steel plate. When small reducers are used, the paddles have to be flattened often. And even then, they may eventually start to perforate from repeated hits. Before that happens, you can bend the paddle sideways about 1/4 to 1/2 inch in order to expose a new part of the paddle to hits. Eventually, you may have to reweld the paddle, but after almost two years of monthly matches, I have not had to do that.

Tool kit:

The repair kit also contains two spare targets, spare key rings, chains, strings, reducers, screws, stop nuts, clamps, etc.:

8) Testing: I use a multi-pump pistol. Five pumps gives 4fpe for testing questionable targets during a match.

Test pistol:

For big matches, our current test procedure is a variation of the AAFTA guidelines. So far, it has worked well:

Target Malfunction Procedures:
If a reset string breaks, call a marshal to repair it.
A shooter may lodge a protest if they feel a target failed to fall with a good hit. The procedure is as follows:
1. Immediately after finishing shooting a lane, the shooter must remain in place and protest if they feel that a target was malfunctioning.
2. Before proceeding, the other squad member calls a marshal who will shoot the target with a 4fpe pistol to check for proper function. The protestor may accompany the marshal during the test.
3. If the target does not fall from a clean test shot, the marshall will repair or replace with a comparable target and retest to satisfaction. Only the shooter in the box that protested may reshoot the target.
4. *If the target falls from a clean test shot, the competitor must move on.

Last resort - A target that cannot be repaired or replaced is removed from scoring for all shooters. It is crossed off the score cards. The announcement is made to all before shooting resumes.

*each competitor is allowed an unlimited number of protests as long as each protested target proves faulty. However, the competitor is only allowed one false alarm. After which, that competitor's protest privilege is suspended for the day.

9) Paint: I use the stock Gamo colors of yellow/black. Yellow on black is a high contrast combination. A little boring but it is very visible and simplifies maintenance. Before repainting, I clean the faceplate and paddle with mineral spirits and apply a thin coat of paint to any affected areas. I use a masking shield to keep paint out of the pull area and out of the mechanism.


10) Storing: A plastic, 12 gallon, hinged top crate will neatly hold 10 Gamo targets. Oure club has 6 crates of targets and two spare targets in the repair kit. Three crates hold enough targets for 15 lanes. The three crates containing our West course targets get used for our monthly matches. The three East course crates are reserved for our yearly Western states match.

Three crates containing 30 targets: